Thymic selection of natural killer-1+ natural T cells that express alpha beta T cell receptors requires a conserved beta 2-microglobulin-associated molecule, presumably CD1d, displayed by CD4+8+ thymocytes. Here we demonstrate that positive selection of natural T cells occurs independent of transporters associated with antigen presentation-1 (TAP-1) function. Moreover, natural T cells in TAP-1o/o mice are numerically expanded. Several H-2 class Ib molecules function in a TAP-independent manner, suggesting that if expressed in TAP-1o/o thymocytes, they could play a role in natural T cell development. Of these class Ib molecules, H-2TL is expressed by TAP-1o/o thymocytes. Moreover, we find that thymi of TL+ mice congenic or transgenic for H-2T18 also have a numerically expanded natural T cell repertoire compared with TL- mice. This expansion, as in TAP-1o/o thymi, is evident in each of the limited T cell receptor V beta chains expressed by natural T cells, suggesting that TL and CD1d impact similar repertoires. Thus TL, in addition to CD1d, plays a role in natural T cell development.

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